Posts Tagged ‘grilling’
Popular Forms of Grilling
Legend has it, prehistoric man first learned to eat roasted food by eating the flesh of animals killed in a forest fire.
– Broiling is a form of grilling wherein the source of heat is located above the food.
– Char-grilling is essentially grilling that uses coal or charcoal as a medium of heat to cook food.
– Barbecuing is a socializing trend soon catching up among people as a great idea for a friendly get together. Most of us have been to at least one barbecue evening.
– Other forms include grid-ironing, charcoal kettle-grilling, flat top grilling, stove-top pan grilling and grill-braising. However, scientists have now discovered that grilling your food may be putting you at a major health risk.
Health Risks of Grilling Food
According to research, excessive grilling for long durations at a high heating point changes the chemical makeup of food and develops carcinogens, cancer-causing agents. The formation of two compounds, Hetero-cyclic Amines (HAs) and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) , leads to development of stomach and colon cancer on consumption of foods that they bind to. It interferes with the DNA structure of your body and stimulate the production of cancer-causing cells.
Dangers of Grilling Meat
When you grill food, the only barrier between the source of heat and food are the grills. Over-heating causes animal fat to melt, drip off your food and melt on to the medium of heat, which is often coal. At a temperature of 400°F, too much heat leads to the transformation of amino acids present in muscle tissues in the meat into HAs and PAHs that vaporize due to the heat. These are one of the most catastrophic carcinogens. As the smoke rises and settles on to the food, these chemicals attach to your food. The brown-black spots are over-grilled parts of your food that contain the most amount of HAs and PAHs. But, the formation of HAs is observed in protein based food like meat. These mutagens provoke cardiomyopathy, a degenerative heart condition of tissue inflammation and destruction, which is an aging disorder in reality. However, scientists are still investigating to factually confirm this observation in humans.
As a matter of fact, people who have the highest consumption of grilled meats, also have a higher rate of pancreatic disorder, liver, breast and rectal cancer. Even if you are not eating it, but doing the cooking, the chemicals are present in the fumes and easily enter your respiratory system. But I must also add, that it is only harmful when done for days and not just a few hours. Even though beef is a lot richer in fat content as compared to chicken, deep-fried beef contains much lesser HAs and PAHs as compared to grilled chicken.
Grilling it Safe
You do not have to fear grilling because it is still safe to eat grilled food. After all, it is only a variation of roasting, the first cooking method discovered by man. However, there are some safe grilling techniques that you could practice to avoid the health risks associated with grilling.
– Choose lean and healthy meat cuts for your barbecue sessions. Low fat helps ensure reduced dripping of animal fat – on the coal, thereby, minimizing the development of carcinogens.
– Do not grill meat for long periods.
– Reduce portion size of meat.
– Always clean cooking equipment post-grilling immediately to prevent bacteria from breeding on them.
– Do not consume the over-grilled parts of your food even if it is not meat. HAs form on meat products but PAHs can form on all kinds of food during excessive roasting. Even your vegetarian kebabs and skewers contain the risk.
– If you are using a microwave or oven for grilling, make sure you preheat them well, at least 10-15 minutes to reduce cooking time.
– To grill fish, you can wrap it in an aluminum foil and keep it chemical free.
– Supplement your food with antioxidants by marinating meat with lemon or orange juice, vinegar and red wine. Have a fruits and vegetables salad as a side-dish.
Think about all the greenhouse gases and soot particles that grilling produces. It not just affect your health but it mixes up and stays within the atmospheric layer of the environment. The more your barbecue meat stays in contact with flame and smoke, the more will be the carcinogen content on it. You could use a grilling machine that has a filter to block out smoke and prevent it from coming in contact with your food. If it suits you, you could substitute grilling with frying using avocado and safflower oil as they have a high smoke point. Also, it would be great health etiquette to reduce the portion size of those hamburgers. As the saying goes, “What you eat is what you become!”
– You accidentally slather too much grease on the meat. Some of it falls down onto the source.
– Grease collects on the lower surface as the grill gets older. It eventually catches fire when you use the grill.
How to Prevent Flare-ups While Grilling?
Putting Out a Flare-up
Now, if you try to put this out with water, it will just sizzle off, mix with the fat and create more smoke, making the whole affair even messier.
– If you try to spray water on it, the grease might start spreading out, getting thinner-layered. This will go out two ways; it will stop the fire at the moment, but you will get another flare-up eventually, or it will only make the fire much bigger with all that hot grease spreading around. You will, therefore, restrict yourself from using a spray bottle on a gas grill!
– The right way to put out a grill fire is to get it under control. The best way to do it is to get your meat out from the place where the grill caught fire and shut the lid on the grill. That way, you’ll cut off the oxygen to the flame and it will stop burning. If you’re using a gas grill, turn off the gas from the cylinder itself. Always make sure that no vent stays open when you close the lid on the flame.
Avoiding a Flare-up
Now that you know how to stop your grill from catching on fire, we will also learn about the ways to prevent a possible flare-up. Knowing how a problem is caused is the best way to know how to deal with it.
– If the fire is caused by fat dripping on to the flames, cut down on the fat. I know, the fat is what makes the meat taste better. I’m just saying lower the fat content outside the meat, cut off all excess fat on the outside the meat. With a little experience, you will successfully be able to get rid of extra fat without making the cooked meat too dry.
– The other culprit is the marinade. Let the entire meat soak in all the marinade it can and drain off the remaining.
– Make sure your grill is clean whenever you want to use it. Clean up all the older grease that’s dried up on the inside of the grill. A clean surface ensures no more flare-ups. This needs to be done regularly because even if you take precautions against the fat reaching the fire, you will still spill some anyway. Cleaning your grill works in two ways; you avoid future fires and your chicken won’t taste like beef! Cleaning off the older fat ensures you don’t get that taste on the current meat you’re cooking.
– Another way to avoid a potential flare-up is to push the coal (before you start the grill up) onto one side of the grill and placing a pan on the other side. Cook your meat over the pan, so any excess fat that melts away from the meat falls into the pan and not the coal. You can also arrange the coal around the pan or on either of two sides of the pan.
– To save your food from being burnt in case the grill catches fire, always keep a small section in a corner of the grill free of coals. So in the event of an unwanted flare-up, just move the meat to where the coal isn’t there and close the lid. This way you protect the meat and stop a fire.
– Never overcrowd the grill with meat. Always keep some free moving space to move the meat around a little. This also allows you to arrange the meat better, keeping the pieces of chicken with more skin on the outer side of the grill.
– If you’re grilling chicken on a broiler rack, don’t line it with aluminum foil. Although it may protect the rack from burns, what happens is the fat that leaks off the chicken collects onto the foil folds. This will cause a flare-up once the foil reaches a hot enough temperature or accidentally drops off into the flames.
And there you have it, a fail-safe checklist of making sure you don’t get a flare-up when you least expect it to happen. Always remember that you’re playing with fire here and it pays to know how to use it right.